We had a power cut last night as I was mid-nappy change, putting my son to bed. Being suddenly plunged into darkness gave us both a shock! I found us a torch which my son was very happy to hold whilst I finished off getting him ready for bed. Then I went (with my son in hand) and lit all the candles we have dotted around the flat. We read bedtime stories by torchlight which was rather fun for my son and after he was tucked up in bed, I sat alone in the candlelight.
It was too dark to read my book. We don't have a TV but even if we did, it wouldn't have worked. I called a friend for a chat to pass some time but there was no answer. I couldn't connect to the Internet. Dinner was already prepared. My husband was still at work. I was seriously stuck for what to do!
Inconvenient as it is, sometimes having things shut down is a good reminder of how reliant we are on the world's resources, of the level of ease and comfort in our lives that we take for granted and of the emphasis on external stimuli upon which we rely. If we still hadn't had any power by this morning (we were without it for just 2 hours), the novelty of the situation would have worn off fast but the reminder of the daily things we simply expect and depend on would certainly have been reinforced. If we are honest with ourselves, we have more than we need, we share none of the consideration for waste that perhaps our grandparents generation did and we are indulgent every day in one way or another.
Having everything we want and more is a nice way to live undoubtedly and we can enjoy the benefits of our heated homes, ready hot water supply, technology, money to spend on 'stuff', eating varied foods and whatever else. Yet, we can do ourselves a favour I think, by taking ourselves out of our easy comfort zone from time to time. Don't worry, I'm not suggesting you cut your power supply to do this! Here are 3 ideas for taking a step away from the path to all things easy:
- Go for a walk in the middle of nowhere. This is even better if the weather's bad. Being surrounded by nothing but nature and the natural elements is a good way to realise how we're just a dot on the earth's surface. Seeing the magnitude of nature around you is a humbling experience that's good for the soul.
- Try a no-spend month. Not literally. I mean, try not to buy extra food or spend money on extraneous purchases. Use up all your storecupboard stock that's been sitting there for a while. No going out for coffee, no impluse clothes shopping for you or the children, no purchases that aren't essential for living day-to day. Even when you think you need to buy something, try to resist and figure out a way around it. You'll be surprised how much you save in just a month.
- Take an on-line break. This is a more drastic step perhaps but we've all heard about people who've done this recently (Stephen Fry, the Maushart family) and they all seem to have got stuff done that they usually don't have/make time for. Let your friends and family know you'll be off email/Facebook/Twitter for a month (or even start with just two weeks) and they can speak to you on the phone or face-to-face instead. Re-discover what you used to do and enjoy spending time doing things you don't normally do or seeing people more.
What other ideas do you have? How important do you think it is to challenge our everyday expectations from life every now and then?